If you have been reading this blog for awhile, you know that I send an average of one text message a month or less. I don't have a laptop. My monitor is not a flat screen. And I don't walk around with one of those God awful Bluetooth things clipped to my ear like I'm auditioning for a role in the next Star Trek movie.
Despite all these technological disadvantages, I think I enjoy my connectivity to the internet and to other human beings just fine. I've purchased and downloaded songs off of the web (paying for music? - what a novel idea - but when you live with a technology lawyer...). I've bought a few things on the internet, which took making a big adjustment to my usual "cash and carry" M.O. I even joined Facebook a couple of months ago.
So what is it about this Twitter thing that makes it the new hot thing right now? It requires the user to have the ability to do two things I am terrible at - sending text messages and being brief. Reading through the list of Tweets in your account, if you are looking at it online, is like taking a stroll through a psychiatric ward at night when the lights are off. In other words, it's like Facebook without the pictures.
But people love it. I even Googled some gadget that let me automatically turn my blog's RSS feed into Tweets. I seem to get a new follower about three or four times a week. I guess they only join to read the headlines, because very few of them ever click through to my blog. Then again, my blog isn't trying to guess Kirstie Allie's weight, or keep people updated on Octo-Mom, or show a video of the latest version of The Stanky Leg (which back in the incarnation practiced in nightclubs around the country back in the eighties was known as the "you don't have to buy me any more drinks tonight" dance).
Twitter posts do have a rhythm, though, that is as much dependant on the number of users as it is on the prowess of a Twitterer with their keypad. It reminds me in a way of metafiction, the way the narrative thrust of communication is rearranged and reshuffled until the mashup of the old, the new, the relevant, the ridiculous and the absurd all combine themselves to form a new pastiche reality that stitches together electronically the varying components of our lives.
Philosophically, I have been wrestling with this in a work of fiction I've reworked fifteen or twenty times in order to get closer to the essence of the rhetorical question it poses about the way we use our electronic messaging systems - are we storing or retrieving?
More importantly, while we are figuring out whether we are storing or retrieving that link or that attachment that we know damn well we sent you last week when you asked us for it the first time, what is going on in the government? On Wall Street? In our colleges? And if you're about to tell me that Twitter does all that in a hundred and forty six characters, you can stop now, before you embarrass yourself.
Nero fiddled while Rome burned.
We will be twittering.